games / Reviews

Nano Assault Neo (Nintendo Wii U) Review

November 28, 2012 | Posted by Mark Salmela

Title: Nano Assault Neo
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Shin’en
Genre: Twin-stick shooter
Players: 1 – 2
Rated: E for Everyone

Shin’en has quietly become one of Nintendo’s best second party developers. Nintendo doesn’t own the company, but Shin’en has been producing content exclusively for Nintendo for quite a while now, and their games have only been getting better over the years. Last year Shin’en released Nano Assault, a downloadable title on the 3DS shop, and while it was well received I didn’t hear anyone talking about it. Well Shin’en is back with a new HD sequel for Nintendo’s new HD console and is looking to make a bigger splash.

Nano Assault Neo is a bullet-hell twin-stick shooter through and through. While Geometry Wars should get the credit for kick-starting the genre, Nano Assault Neo borrows much more from Super Stardust than it does Geometry Wars. Similar to Super Stardust, in Nano Assault Neo there are no actual edges on the map. Each level takes place on a 3 dimensional cell, similar to how each level in Super Stardust took place on a 3 dimensional planet (sphere). You control your ship using the left analog stick, and aim and fire using the right analog stick.

Nano Assault Neo is comprised of 4 clusters. Each cluster is a mini-campaign consisting of 3 normal levels, a bonus level at the half-way point, and a boss encounter at the end. Every level takes place on a different cell, with radically different designs that range from standard ovals to confusing contortions which will challenge gamers to explore every nook and cranny of each level. The levels are varied enough that the game doesn’t feel overly repetitive; although it’s unlikely you’ll play through the entire game in one sitting. Arcade shooters like these are best handled in smaller doses, which are complimented by the mini-campaign structure of Nano Assault Neo. Expect to beat Nano Assault Neo in around 2 hours, but like any good twin-stick shooter there’s a lot of replayability and you’ll likely want to replay each level multiple times to truly master them.

There is an impressive amount of content here for a downloadable launch title. Nano Assault Neo can be played entirely on the Wii U Gamepad, or it can be played on your TV with the smaller screen on the Gamepad becoming a map. You can also play Nano Assault Neo co-operatively with another player locally, although the second player is forced to play with a Wiimote/Nun Chuck, Classic Controller, or Wii U Pro Controller on the TV while the first player plays exclusively on the Gamepad. It’s not ideal, but it does work and it is appreciated. Not enough games offer local co-op these days. Online co-op would have been appreciated.

In addition to the standard campaigns, upon completing Nano Assault Neo you’ll unlock a survivor mode and an arcade mode. Arcade mode is a fun alternative to the standard campaign, and survival mode will kick your ass. Nano Assault Neo is not an easy game to begin with, and will provide a difficult challenge to even the most hardcore of gamers on the more difficult settings. When you add up the 12 normal levels, 4 bonus levels, 4 boss battles, survival mode, arcade mode, and local co-op Nano Assault Neo is quite the attractive package for $10.


– The graphics look great in full HD, and the game runs silky smooth.
– There is a lot of variety in the levels, the colors, and the enemies.
– This is the best twin-stick shooter to come out in years.
– There’s a lot of content packed in for a $10 downloadable launch title.
– This game is a blast to play, both alone or with a friend.
– Nano Assault Neo will provide gamers with a serious challenge on the more difficult settings.
– The in-game store for purchasing upgrades provides a good incentive to keep playing.
– Multiple types of alternate weapons add variety to the shooting.


– The enemy bullets aren’t distinct enough on the screen. It’s easy to accidentally get hit and lose a life because you didn’t see the bullet on-screen.
– The camera can get awkward at times while trying to get a good view of the action.

The 411

You know, I’m not quite sure you can sustain life on liquid hot magma, but I’m not a scientist.

Nano Assault Neo is a fantastic launch title for the Nintendo Wii U. For $10 you get the best arcade top-down, twin-stick shooter released in years. While there was a new Super Stardust released on PS Vita this year, there hasn’t really been a high quality twin-stick shooter released on consoles this year. Nano Assault Neo may have borrowed heavily from Super Stardust, but it’s an extremely fun game that has a surprising amount of content. The only real complaints I have on the game is how enemy bullets can blend into the background causing cheap deaths, and the occasional awkward camera angle. Otherwise this is a great experience. If you’re looking for a fun experience on the Wii U that can be enjoyed in small doses, look no further. Nano Assault Neo should be the first purchase you make on the Wii U’s eShop.

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Mark Salmela
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